Monday, March 18, 2024

Hollenbeck Canyon Wildlife Area Hike (plus Granite Lion Cellars)

On St. Patrick's Day, Tori and I drove down to Jamul to hike the Hollenbeck Canyon Wildlife Area.  The 6,100-acre preserve provides a wildlife corridor between Otay Mountain and the Jamul Mountains. The property was a cattle ranch owned by the Daley Family until it was purchased by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and designated a wildlife area in 2001. A $5 Lands Pass is required to enter so we made sure to purchase and print the Day Pass ahead of time since the internet signal is bad at the trailhead.

The Honey Springs Ranch Truck Trail is a 4.7 mile out-and-back trail with a small loop at the far end. The trail follows the creek and there were four stream crossings in the first mile. We were prepared to get our feet wet, but the water was low enough to use the stepping stones. Be careful since a few stones were pretty wobbly. As the trail left the side of the creek and started to climb the canyon, we had great views of the rocky Skyline Preserve and Lyons Peak in the distance.

Most of the elevation gain was gradual as we hugged the left side of the steep gorge. In the canyon below, we could see a rocky cascading waterfall. At the fork in the trail, we started the loop portion with a steep climb up the back of the mountain where we gained about 400 feet of the 662 total hike elevation.

At the top, we had a great view of the green hills of Jamul spreading out South before us.  In the distance, see could see the entire width of Otay Mountain that runs along the US-Mexico Border. This was my favorite part of the hike as we descended through the valley and climbed a small ridge with another great view of the lower canyon.

At the end of the loop, we rejoined the original trail along the tree-lined creek. We were startled by the buzzing warning of a rattlesnake as we watched it slither across our path and into the bushes. Near the trailhead, the green grassy hills reminded me of the famous Windows XP Desktop Screen.

After our hike, we drove over to the nearby Granite Lion Cellars for a wine tasting. We were starving so we shared a plate of Teriyaki Chicken, Garlic Shrimp and New York Steak from the onsite food truck, Hibachi Catering. It really hit the spot and we also took home a bottle of their Lyon's Peak wine.

On the drive home, we stopped in Lemon Grove to see the Giant Lemon and check out the Hidden Murals along the back alleys.

Sunday, February 04, 2024

Mount Rubidoux Hike (plus Tio's Tacos)

After visiting my mother in Riverside, Tori and I drove over to hike to the top of Mount Rubidoux with my brother, Jake, our sister-in-law, Becca, and niece, Nyla. The boulder-covered hill near downtown rises 484 feet over the Santa Ana River that crosses along its base. The riverbed is normally dry but we could see flowing water from the recent rains. As we hiked up the paved trail, we had a great view of the snow covered peaks of the San Jacinto Mountains to the East. Nyla had a lot of fun scrambling through every boulder field we passed.

Two circular paths ring the hillside and as we neared the top, we switched onto the inner summit ring. Circling counter-clockwise, we passed the Peace Tower and Friendship Bridge that were built in 1925 before climbing to the lower summit with the large American Flag. We then crossed the saddle to the highest peak with the Serra Cross that was erected in 1907. The hilltop became famous for its Easter Sunrise Services that started in 1909 and soon spread around the country. Even though the gathering rain clouds prevented a beautiful sunset, we still had great views of the area.

After descending from our 3 mile hike, so we drove over to Tio's Tacos for dinner since my brother's family had never been to the art-filled Mexican restaurant. They must rotate some of the art pieces since I see something new every time I visit.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Bella Laguna Viewpoint (Batiquitos Lagoon Sunset)

We visited the Bella Laguna Viewpoint for the first time to watch the sun set over the Batiquitos Lagoon. It was a clear day and we could easily see the Catalina & San Clemente Islands and as far as the San Gorgonio Mountain to the East. The short viewpoint trail is inside a gated community but you can park on Bella Vista Drive and enter through the City of Encinitas’ Bella Vista Trail.

We returned a week later with Chad to hike the nearby spur trail off of Swallowtrail Road. The trail follows the ridgeline into the Barelman Open Space with another wonderful view of Batiquitos Lagoon.